CROW Act: Right to Roam legislation including The Lake District & North Pennines is 20 years old
19th December 2020
Across England and Wales in 2000 the Government legislated to introduce a limited right to roam, without compensation for landowners. The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW) was gradually implemented from 2000 onwards to give the general public the conditional right to walk in certain areas of the English and Welsh countryside: principally downland, moorland, heathland and coastal land. Forests and woodlands are excluded, other than publicly owned forests, which have a similar right of access by virtue of a voluntary dedication made by the Forestry Commission. Developed land, gardens and certain other areas are specifically excluded from the right of access. Agricultural land is accessible if it falls within one of the categories described above. People exercising the right of access have certain duties to respect other people's rights to manage the land, and to protect nature.
The new rights were introduced region by region through England and Wales, with completion in 2005. Maps showing accessible areas have been produced. This added to the legal right to use established public footpaths and bridleways, some common land and access to the foreshore. Land owners may prevent access to other areas (or charge a fee for access).
The CROW Act, is an iconic piece of legislation, arguably the most significant legal statute affecting recreation and access to the countryside in England and Wales since the National Parks & Access to the Countryside Act of 1949.
The Ordnance Survey Explorer Maps covering the Lake District National Park and The North Pennines show areas of open access in yellow shading meaning that you can go walking, climbing and running (activities on foot) over 865,000 hectares of land (covering mountains, moors, heaths, downs and registered common land) without the need to stick to paths. It has given people confidence and a sense of freedom to explore.